Health Care System in Hawaii
The Big Island has developed a reputation as the “Healing Island,” with ancient Hawaiian techniques, a burgeoning interest in alternative therapies and wellness programs, state-of-the art medical facilities and specialty physicians making up a holistic healthcare provider picture.
Ancient Hawaiian techniques, such as lomilomi massage, ho`oponopono spiritual healing, the use of remedies from native plants have been revived and are being put into wider practice as “modern day” medicine. This interest has engendered concurrent interest in a variety of non-traditional and non-western medical therapies such as acupuncture, reiki, naturopathic, Rolfing, yoga, homeopathy, and numerous other holistic approaches with an ever-growing list of practitioners throughout West Hawaii that actually outnumber Western medical practitioners.
Meanwhile, there are three full-service, acute care medical center hospitals that serve the West side of the Big Island. Kona Hospital in Kealakekua is the primary health care facility in West Hawaii, with 94 beds, a medical staff of 61 and more than 400 employees. Patient services include 24-hour emergency care, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, same day surgery, chemotherapy, psychiatric care, outpatient nursing, MRI, cardiology, and radiology services, and various physical and other therapies.
Waimea is the site of North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH), a 35-bed acute care hospital with 119-member medical staff and 300 employees. This new (six years old) facility has one of the best imaging centers anywhere along with state of the art diagnostic and imaging equipment. NHCH focuses on patient care that treats the patient in mind, body and spirit on the context of family, culture and community. Emergency services are available 24 hours. Also at the north end of the Island in Kapa\’au is the 26-bed Kohala Hospital, providing acute short and long term care and 24-hour emergency service. Inpatient and outpatient lab and x-ray services are also available.
In support of these hospitals, there has been in recent years a significant upswing in the number of specialty centers, urgent care facilities, professional medical buildings, assisted-living facilities and other medical/surgical type operations in West Hawaii. There has likewise been rapid growth – almost 50 percent in the past decade – in the number of licensed medical providers, dentists and dental hygienists here.
In fact, healthcare has become probably the fastest growing sector of West Hawaii\’s economy with the result that both residents and visitors have a range of choice of mainstream, alternative and traditional health options far greater than those typically found in communities of corresponding size.